Friday, July 04, 2008

Blessings for many occasions

I have been enriched over the years by some traditional blessings. If you have ever felt a rush of gratitude towards God for any certain goodness or gift, but have lacked a blessing to give voice to it, these may be helpful. The blessings below are from Learn Hebrew Today: Alef-Bet for Adults by Paul Michael Yedwab with Howard I. Bogot. I've altered "Adonai our God" to "O Lord our God" to put the translated blessing fully into English, and their "Ruler of the Universe" to "King of the Universe" since it seems more Biblical and less sterile. I've also made them uniformly "Blessed are you" (direct address to God) rather than some to God and some praising God in the third person but not addressed to him. Other alterations from the originals are mentioned individually.

Blessing over wine: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, creator of the fruit of the vine.

Blessing over bread: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Blessing for Bible study: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who command us to study His Word. (Originally: who commands us to engage in the study of Torah)

Blessing over pastry (count me in): Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, creator of many kinds of food.

Blessing over fruit that grows on trees: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, creator of the fruit of the tree.

Blessing on seeing lightning or other natural wonders: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, the source of creative power.

Blessing on hearing thunder: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, whose power and might pervade the world.

Blessing on seeing the ocean: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, maker of the great sea.

Blessing on seeing the beauties of nature: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, whose world is filled with beauty.

Blessing on seeing trees in blossom: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who created lovely trees to enchant the heart. (Abridged.)

Blessing over the spice box: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, creator of all the spices.

I've left out a few from the book, such as blessings for lighting candles and for putting the mezuzah on the doorframe of the house. But I think there are other blessings missing from the collection. A blessing for children is foremost in my mind, but I'm sure there are others.

4 comments:

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

I like these. I've heard similar blessings during alternative liturgies and during the Seder Supper. Although I like them, I don't understand the word "blessing" in this context, even though it has been explained to me. It doesn't resonate with me. I would think something like a praise word would make more sense.

Weekend Fisher said...

Funny, now that you mention it I remember the same among my early reactions. But by now I've acclimated and I think "blessed" in this context is exactly a praise word. Maybe "Glory to you" or "Thanks to you" would work as substitutes for anyone who finds "Blessed are you" awkward.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

SeekWisdom said...

I think the word "blessing" in this situation is like: "Bless the Lord, oh my soul."

We think of a blessing as something God gives. And I once looked up and read a lot about the concept of "blessing God."

It's part of our inheritance from the Old Testament: Hebrew phraseology.

Blessed are you, oh Lord our God, for the abundance of your scriptures! And for the language of prayer.

Interesting how words "shape us." And scripture and prayers do that. They transform our minds. Into the mind of Christ. Who must be always "blessing" God.

SeekWisdom said...

Further thoughts about the meaning of "blessing" the Lord.

If you look at the psalms, it appears that "bless the Lord" is said in gratitude. And "praise the Lord" often involved shouts, music, cymbals, lutes - songs of praise. I haven't looked the whole thing over totally, but this may be a good rule of thumb for the meaning of "blessing" the Lord.

Short rule of thumb:

Bless appears to mean "thanking" God.

Praise appears in conjunction with rejoicing, dancing, singing, playing music, a procession. Glorifying God.